Turkey has engaged an international law firm to help it regain its position in the US-led F-35 fighter jet program, according state media reported Friday.
The six-month contract with Arnold & Porter – for a reported value of $ 750,000 (620,000 euros) – comes as Turkey tries to find a solution with US President Joe Biden over its controversial purchase of Russian missile systems. .
The Washington-based law firm did not immediately comment.
Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 fighter jet program in 2019 as punishment for its decision to acquire advanced Russian hardware after failing to come to terms with the American Patriots used by most other NATO member states.
Washington slapped Turkey’s military procurement agency with sanctions after Russian S-400s were first tested late last year.
The United States is concerned that the S-400 systems could help Russia gather intelligence and shoot down NATO warplanes if fully integrated into Turkish defenses.
The Pentagon confirmed earlier this month that it believed that the Russian systems were “incompatible” with the F-35 jets and that the sanctions imposed on Turkey would continue until the S-400s were withdrawn.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar suggested a compromise solution earlier this month that would be to put the S-400s in boxes and deploy them only when needed.
The State Department appeared to reject that suggestion saying, “Our policy regarding the S-400s has not changed.”
The Biden administration has taken a much tougher stance on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan than Ankara did when Donald Trump was in the White House.
Biden has yet to call Erdogan and the State Department has harshly berated Turkey’s human rights record since his swearing in last month.
Turkey was both a supplier of parts and a buyer of the F-35s.
US officials say the sanctions will allow the aircraft’s main contractor, Lockheed Martin, to fulfill its outstanding contracts in Turkey.